7 Tips To Decrease Sugar Cravings

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Food cravings can mean the death of many of your nutrition goals. Even the most dedicated can find themselves slipping and giving into the gnarling voice of their cravings.

Sugar and salt seem to be the most craved, with sugar in particular, being so addictive that willpower and intellect alone have little to do with pushing it away. You can only willpower your way through a sugar craving so many times until you eventually give in and throw all caution to the wind.

There are many reasons of why sugar can feel like it has a stranglehold on you — stress, nutrient deficiencies, imbalanced blood sugar, food memories, poor relationship with food, not enough sleep, and not being mindful of what you are eating. This is only naming a few of the reasons.

There is a belly-mind connection and it is much stronger than your willpower in the long run. 

And because of this belly-mind connection, it is super important to address a layer of reasons of why you may be struggling with your cravings. Some of those layers may feel very challenging to move through, while other may feel a bit easier and more direct. 

When starting a successful habit change, you want to focus on those low hanging fruit layers — those easy to grasp and where you can see quick results. Not only does it help to get the ball rolling, but it is also super motivating to see quick results.

Changing your relationship with food and the memories associated with your cravings can prove to be a little bit more challenging and typically demand deeper mental and emotional work. You can start here, but it might be easier to make some simple nutritional changes. This will help to decrease the physical and nutritional issues that may not be associated directly with your relationship with food.

Here are 7 easy tips that can begin to ward off cravings and balance your blood sugar:

  1. Drink more water. Let’s start with a simple one. The more dehydrated you are, the more difficult it is for the body to metabolize glycogen (stored glucose) for energy, so our bodies crave sugar to provide us with a quick source of energy when we actually just need to drink a little more water. 
  2. Add in cinnamon. This spice helps your body control the amount of sugar in your blood, evening out the highs and lows that lead to cravings. One study found those who took 3g of cinnamon a day maintained lower blood sugar levels after a glucose-tolerance test than those who did not take the cinnamon. And, your sugar cravings can drop immediately after consuming something with cinnamon!
  3. Eat your bitter foods. Research has found that consuming bitter foods shuts down the receptors in your brain that drive you to desire and consume more sugar. Bitter foods and plants can help slow the absorption of sugar and regulate blood sugar levels. You can eat foods such as dandelion, citrus peel, artichoke leaf, licorice root, and even burdock root. Or, you can make it super simple and use a tincture of bitters either before or after your meals (this helps with digestion too!). My favorite bitter tincture is by Urban Moonshine.
  4. Try spinach extract. Spinach extract, also known as Appethyl, is actually a weight loss supplement. It contains thylakoids, which consist mostly of proteins, antioxidants, and chlorophyll. Spinach extract has been shown to delay fat absorption (but not total inhibit it) and increase the activity of the hormones that reduce appetite and hunger. 
  5. Say no to the small bites. Feel a craving coming on? Don’t eat the small bites here and the small bites there. Those first few bites are inevitably the most tasty and your brain is going to be triggered by indulging in just a few bites. Not to mention, this creates a mindset of deprivation and can actually make you crave harder and jeopardize your relationship with food.
  6. Avoid getting too hungry. Make sure to eat regularly and not allow yourself to get too hungry. Fasting is all the rage and everyone seems to be either doing it or wondering if they should do it. Fasting can be super beneficial to help with cleaning out damaged cells, in order to regenerate newer, healthier cells (autophagy) but when you fast for too long, it can create a great imbalance in your blood sugar, causing hunger and cravings. If you are choosing to fast regularly, keep your time frames on the shorter side, aiming between 12-16 hours. If you are a woman, keep those time frames in the 12-14 hour range. 
  7. Make it hard to get. This is technically a behavior change, but it falls right in line with nutritional behavior changes. One of the first line of defenses when making a habit change is to make what you want hard to get. That could be by placing it out of sight and out of mind, placing it in the highest cupboard of the kitchen (needing a step stool every time you want to get it), or even not buying it at all and only being able to get it by going to the grocery store. When you create a challenge or obstacle and it is not so easy, this delays the food to mouth time AND it also gives you more time to think about the choice that you are making. Sometimes simply creating space and time can be enough to allow you to decide that the craving is just not worth it!

Getting rid of cravings can be super complex and has many layers attached to it. Often, you have to dig and uncover those layers to get to the root cause of what is causing your cravings in the first place. This is where a coach and support system can help guide you on your journey. Are you ready to finally uncover your layers? Click here to learn more about my signature “Break Your Plateau” health coaching program!

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5 Spices To Boost Immunity And Help You Deal With The Symptoms

As we as a society become more in touch with the human body and how it operates, we become more in tune with how to heal it. Right now, more than ever, we are discovering just how complex the human body is  –  a complex healing machine.

But, as much as technology brings us closer and closer to more advanced techniques to keep our bodies healthier than ever, technology also brings us many potential invaders to the precious inner workings that exist within each us.

As these invaders – toxins of various kinds – penetrate our world consistently, our immune systems are one of the first things to be compromised.

We just don’t have time for that!

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Being consciously aware that our bodies are absolutely amazing self-healing machines is important, but being aware that helping to clean it out and protect it more from the influx of these invaders is vital.

There are a multitude of ways to help protect your immune system. From exercising more to detoxing to cleaning the chemicals out of your medicine cabinet, we can do so much.

And all of these are super important…

…but they typically require you to invest more time!

One of the easiest ways to help protect your immune system is through your nutrition.  We all KNOW this, right? But, what most of us don’t know is what to focus on and how some of the most simple ingredients can pack the most punch in protecting your immune system. The best part? You already have them hiding out in your cabinets.

Food as medicine!

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Our ancestors knew the deal. As I was growing up, I would hear about “old wives’ tales” and recipes from my ancestors that told tales of using this herb to heal that ailment. These stories were abundant. And, being a kid, I would roll my eyes and dismiss it as silliness.

It wasn’t until I got older that I learned the validity of these stories. How many of us still wear those kid-like glasses when it comes to some of the wisdom that was shared with us when we were growing up? I know that I do from time to time!

Not only are these herbs super duper immune healing power houses, but they also are fabulous for acute issues. For example, when I have motion-sickness or increased inflammation or nausea, I know what spices to turn to in order to assist in decreasing my symptoms.  So, if your immune system does become compromised, then you know what herbs to concentrate on to help you ease the symptoms until your body heals.

In this article, I am going to share some of my favorite herbs to help boost the immune system and/or heal the body. As I have used them over the years, I realized how effective they actually are AND they taste simply amazing. That’s a bonus!

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1. Ginger

Ginger is perfect for helping to quiet nausea, speed food through the digestive tract, and protect against gastric ulcers. Small studies have also shown that ginger can help with pain, including menstrual cramps, muscle pain, migraines, osteoarthritis or other chronic inflammatory conditions.

It can cause heartburn and gas in large quantities and it may interact with some medications, so make sure that you check with your doctor first before ingesting large quantities.

How much: If your doctor approves it, it’s best to use ginger daily. It’s best if you can use fresh ginger instead of powdered. I love concentrated ginger oil too!

Serving suggestions: Try a pinch of ginger in tea or dice it and add to a zesty Thai soup. It’s also great in baked goods, from gingerbread to gingersnaps. Try adding chunks of candied ginger to pear or apple muffins for an extra zing. And, if you get motion-sickness, try Gin-Gin’s natural ginger candy for relief.

2. Tumeric

Tumeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, is a strong antioxidant that’s been shown in studies to fend off cancer growth, amyloid plaque development, and more. It has also been shown to boost heart health due to it helping to regulate triglyceride and insulin levels. Tumeric is also amazing for inflammation…it is like a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory but without the nasty side effects. in a 2009 study, it was discovered that a  daily dose of curcumin is just as effective as ibuprofen for osteoarthritis in the knee. Curcumin helps to regulate the immune system. It has positive effects on people with autoimmune disorders, such as multiple sclerosis.

Like all herbs and spices, however, too much turmeric might not be a good thing. It has been shown that when ingested in large doses, it can inhibit blood clotting and may exacerbate gallbladder issues, so check with your doctor before using more than a typical culinary amount.

How much: Aim for a teaspoon of turmeric at least three times a week. Make sure to mix it with a little black pepper so that your body can absorb it better.

Serving suggestions: Add a big pinch to a pot of lentil soup or sprinkle some into a tea. You can buy teas commercially from companies like the Republic of Tea or Yogi, or make your own by chopping up an inch of fresh turmeric root and infusing in hot water for 15 minutes. I love sprinkling turmeric on my eggs in the morning. The heat also allows the antioxidants to better be released.

3. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a nutritional powerhouse. It helps to keep cells safe from oxidative stress and dangerous free radicals. Antioxidants help fight such diseases as cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and Parkinson’s. Cinnamon is also fantastic in fighting cardiovascular problems.

Cinnamon helps the hormone insulin work better, which reduces blood sugar levels. Diabetes will fear cinnamon’s presence!

Cinnamon is also regarded as a warming expectorant, used to gently reduce congestion and phlegm in the lungs, and dry up runny noses.

How much: Aim for a quarter to half a teaspoon most days of the week. True cinnamon, often labeled “Ceylon cinnamon,” has higher levels of antioxidants, so seek it out if you can.

Serving suggestions: Sprinkle a little on fresh fruit, a steaming bowl of oatmeal, or a scoop of peanut butter, or add to fish, chicken, or lamb dishes, especially with cumin and chili powder. No time to cook? Sprinkle some cinnamon in your morning coffee or tea.

4. Basil

Basil, while often associated with giving Italian food a load of flavor, is traditionally used to treat asthma, stress, and diabetes. Basil has strong antimicrobial and antiviral properties, even against nasty bugs like Listeria and E. coli. It is especially great for anyone with arthritis or other inflammatory health problems. Basil is also a great source of beta-carotene, which turns into vitamin A, as well as magnesium, iron, and calcium.

How much: Aim for a tablespoon of fresh basil or quarter to half a teaspoon of dried basil three times a week.

Serving suggestion: Basil epitomizes summer foods, such as cold tomato or pasta salads. But don’t stop there. Add it to pizza, pasta, or anything with tomatoes any time of year.

5. Cayanne or Chili Peppers

Capsaicin, the active ingredient in peppers, works as a great topical pain reliever for headaches, arthritis, and other chronic pain problems. Capsaicin inhibits the release of P-protein, which in turn interrupts the transmission of constant pain signals to the brain. If you don’t feel like smearing it on yourself, orally ingesting capsaicin has been linked to the release of endorphins and the regulation of blood sugar and has been shown to have anticancer benefits.

How much: As little as an eighth of a teaspoon can have positive health benefits.

Serving suggestions: There’s a whole world of chili peppers out there, from the mild poblano to the fiery habanero. It’s worth experimenting to find your favorite. Chili peppers work particularly well in salsas, soups, chicken dishes, and even in caramel or chocolate desserts. I LOVE chili chocolate!

Now it is your turn. How can you begin to use these spices to boost your immune system and heal your body from within? What are your favorite herbs and which ones do you need to give another chance?

Your body is a beautiful, healing machine. When given the respect and supportive ingredients to be the most effective, it will treat you well. Stay in the game of life this season and protect yourself daily from all those invaders that fill our world.

You can’t get rid of all the invaders.But, you DO have the power to surround yourself with the good stuff and create your own healing, protective barrier!

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